Monday, August 30, 2010

ChiRunning: Is It All It's Cracked up to Be?

Let me set the scene for you: I’ve been a runner for almost 12 years. I never had a running injury until I started training for my first marathon in 2007. About halfway into my 16-week training program, I ended up sidelined and had to get a medical deferral due to IT Band Syndrome in my right leg. Since then, I’ve completed three marathons (and countless shorter distance races) and I’ve suffered a number of running injuries: patellar tendonitis and piriformis syndrome among them. As a result, I’ve tried every treatment under the sun from physical therapy to acupuncture to active release massage therapy—you name it, I tried it. Not running was never an option for me.

During a random session on Amazon, I stumbled across a book titled, ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running, and I was so intrigued that I immediately downloaded it to my Kindle. The author, Danny Dreyer, suggests that the road to running effortlessly starts with returning to our childhood. He encourages runners to return to the time when running felt like fun, which really resonated with me, because a good run always feels like recess to me! In the book, Danny provides detailed instruction on how to modify your running style to ensure pain-free running for life.

Although I had a pretty clear understanding of what Danny was suggesting (I’ve only read half of the book so far), I wanted to see it in action. I found a ChiRunning Half-Day Workshop in DC. The price was steep, $125 for 4-hours of group instruction (but I thought it was more feasible than $225 for a full-day session). I took the class on August 22. It was led by Lloyd Henry, who is a significantly accomplished athlete based in the DC area. There were a total of 12 people in my class: a few moms, a few men, and at least one trust-fund baby. Lloyd instructed us on how to correct our posture, lean into the run (let gravity do all of the work), and literally let our feet “peel off the ground” as we fell forward into the run. It was a lot of information squeezed into a 4-hour class, but in the end, I felt it was worth it.

I’ve been able to employ some of the things I’ve learned in my recent runs, and it has helped. But, it’s a lot to think about, which is OK for me, as I tend to be an associative runner. I check in with my body often during a long run, and ChiRunning has taught me to pay that much more attention. Am I a believer? Not sure, but I’ll keep you posted.

Run well,


  1. I read about this in Runners World and thought of you. Glad you were able to pick up a few tips from the workshop. What sort of pacing are you doing on your long runs? Would love to join you one Saturday? Getting ready for Army in October and (possibly) the Philly Half in November. Hope to fall back in love (or at least in like) with running in the process! Cheers! Terri

  2. Hi Terri! I run 9:30 - 10:00 on long runs, and I'm doing 15 this Saturday. I would love to run with you! I'm also doing the Army Ten Miler. Have you considered the Woodrow Wilson Half on 9.19? I'm running that as well.